Long-distance running is a wonderful form of exercise and can be a deeply rewarding experience. However, it is also a challenging, taxing sport, especially for newer athletes, and the injury risk can be significant. If you are interested in long-distance running, there are certain facts you should know beforehand. The following five tips, detailed by Winnipeg fitness coach and nutrition guru Gabriel Patterson, will be useful to all distance runners, from beginners to veterans.
1. GET THE RIGHT GEAR
Running will be miserable if you have the wrong shoes. You'll put yourself at risk not only for blisters and irritation but for other serious injuries. Shoes that fit well and are comfortable are a must. Consider minimalist running shoes, since research has shown this type of footwear minimizes the impact on your joints. While footwear is the most important element of running gear, it's not the only part. Clothing should be light and breathable; additionally, wear sunscreen and a hat if conditions require them.
2. INCREASE DISTANCE SLOWLY
Some folks can run a marathon or longer relatively easily. However, they surely did not start out that way. It takes time to build up to running long distances, and injuries are almost inevitable if you go too far, too soon. If you are a complete beginner to running, begin with only a few miles. As you ramp up, the general rule is to not increase mileage by more than 10 percent a week.
The body needs time to recover from hard physical exertion. Endurance activities carry a significant risk for repetitive stress injuries. The exact specifics will depend upon the training plan you use, but you should probably rest at least a few days a week. The longer the run, the more you must rest afterward. A longer break allows your body sufficient time to repair itself.
Recovery isn't just about resting. You also need to take active steps to help your body bounce back, and stretching is one of the key methods. Practicing stretching will help relieve soreness and muscle pain, since stretching directs blood flow to the targeted area, aiding in the body's recovery from the stress of intense exercise. Stretching also increases range of motion and flexibility, lowering the risk of injury.
Running might be an aerobic workout, but it still involves harsh, repetitive use of the muscles. This means strength training and other kinds of exercise are particularly valuable for long-distance runners. Running injuries frequently occur because certain muscles are too weak. Swimming, dancing, and other forms of cardio are valuable for increasing general fitness level and working the body in new ways, therefore aiding running abilities.
For many, long-distance running is an extremely satisfying activity. In fact, some experts believe humans specifically evolved to run long distances well; meaning you are literally born to run. It would be a shame to impede your efforts to participate in long-distance running. Avoid this mistake by following Gabriel Patterson’s tips described above.
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